Past Faculty Institutes


Birmingham & Montgomery: The Civil Rights Movement Reimagined
March 15-18, 2017

During this Faculty Institute, participants will aim to liberate familiar representations of The Civil Rights Movement from monuments, memorials, television footage, movies and photos by bringing these iconic images into the present and future, reimagining them through the cultural and camera lenses of 2017. Participants will reconsider the design and construction of historical icons: where they are located socially and geographically; what they reveal about the people who conceived and funded them; what they are asking us to feel, think, and do; whether they elicit nostalgia, anger, unity, activism.

Facilitators from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Donna Andrews, Michele Forman, and Ada Long will join with Clarence Christian from Southwest Tennessee Community College to guide participants through the process of learning how to incorporating interdisciplinary and field-based elements into their courses and programs through reflective practices and projects.


Rotterdam Faculty Institute
July 11-17, 2016

Until May 14th 1940, the city of Rotterdam was like any other Dutch city, containing an old medieval center, functional waterways, and vast living areas for the working class. In May, 1940, a World War II bombing destroyed the heart of the city. What remained seemed to be a city without a heart, but also a city filled with potential that has been realized via streets which function as communities, small villages that have persisted over time, and a harbor that has expanded across oceans. Using City-as-Text pedagogy, the Institute will explore how creativity in this urban environment has marked Rotterdam as a vibrant, progressive city even as it struggles to meet the challenges of educating and serving the people from approximately 170 nationalities that live in its borders.

CAT Master Class: Uncovering Seattle
October 9 – 11, 2016

An opportunity for faculty with prior City-as-Text experience (Faculty Institute or at the National Conference) to engage in an intensive exploration of Seattle prior to the 2016 National Conference. The only city named for a Native American, Seattle has a rich history that contrasts distinctly with the contemporary culture. Participants will engage in the principles of site-based experiential learning with the intent of taking home a deeper understanding of City-as-Text principles to bring back to their home campuses.


Land, People, Place: (Dis)Connections in New Mexico
July 14-19, 2015

New Mexico is home to a variety of cultures and peoples, reflecting myriad identities and qualities that have resulted from centuries of its people resisting, clashing, blending and negotiating. This faculty institute will consider questions of how the diverse peoples New Mexico connect, or fail to connect, through the natural and built places of the region. Explorations will focus on the diverse neighborhoods of Albuquerque, the contrasting pueblos of Isleta and Acoma, as well as the landscapes in and around these destinations. Questions to be considered include: How do the natural and built environments in and around Albuquerque work? How does this rapidly growing urban environment contrast with the longstanding Isleta and Acoma pueblos? How do the two pueblos register their unique histories? Who lives and works in these places? Through readings, discussions, explorations and observations, participants will explore the ways in which a range of identities, spaces, and places shape this unique part of the country. The Institute will be housed at the historic Hotel Andaluz, built by New Mexico native Conrad Hilton in 1939, with easy access to Albuquerque and Pueblo of Isleta and Santa Fe.

Food Politics: The World Food Prize and the Iowa State Fair
August 12-16, 2015

This project of NCHC’s Honors Semesters Committee takes participants to Des Moines and Ames, Iowa to investigate dimensions of food production and research. Exploring one of the largest State Fairs in the U.S. in Des Moines, and visiting the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, with sessions at the World Food Prize administration headquarters, the issues of globalized systems of food production and distribution emerge as central to examining the intersection of politics and food. The Iowa State Fair is a major campaign stop for Presidential hopefuls vying for a win in the Iowa Caucuses, drawing candidates likely to be present during this time period. The conjunction of places and people in this application of Place as Text illustrates links between theory and practice, technical expertise and social dynamics which are pertinent to disciplines across humanities, social science and science.


The New Old England: Manor, Market and Mosque, Harlaxton Manor, Lincolnshire, England
June-July 2014

This Faculty Institute will use Place as Text pedagogy to explore varied ways the English have constructed their sense of “Englishness” over time. The practice of constructing a sense of national self is particularly exciting to consider because England faces significant cultural changes involving social class, religion, immigration, and industrialism. Harlaxton Manor is the Institute’s base. Built in 1837, it is an ideal setting from which to consider these topics, both in itself and in juxtaposition with Grantham, Lincolnshire, an area rich in history, contradictions, and contested identities.

Facades and Secrets of Lyon, France
July 2014

Lyon, historically important as the Roman capital of Gaul, economically and culturally dominant as a silk producer and printing center in the Renaissance, center of labor unrest in the 19th century and of resistance in World War II, is unquestionably a global gastronomic center today. Most recently it has embarked on exceptional urban redevelopment, offering a rich and acces-sible laboratory for both historic and contemporary exploration. From its hidden covered passageways or traboules, since the 4th century connecting streets from the top of the hills down to the rivers, to open markets and newly created pedestrian and park venues that accentuate the beauty of the old and the geni-us of the new, Lyon’s complex urban setting lends itself to investigation from many disciplinary perspectives. It is a model site for experiential learning.


Preserving Place and Conserving Culture: The Challenges of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
May 2013

This Institute provides participants with an opportunity to see Yellowstone National Park through new eyes. Using Place as Text pedagogy, participants will read our first national park and its surrounding area, paying particular attention to complex and contrasting cultures and landscapes. The Institute will facilitate a deep exploration of contemporary questions about the stewardship of public lands: How are tensions between the tourism industry and environmental preservation negotiated? What complexities are generated when differing cultures and stakeholders lay claim to a particular location? How are notions of wilderness constructed? The ultimate goal is for participants to engage with experiential-learning strategies as a way to link discovery, knowledge, dialogue, and observation.

City Squares and Coastal Ports of Greater Boston: (Re)Configuring Public Spaces
June 2013

This Faculty Institute will consider how public space is used, and re‐used, through exploration of the city squares and coastal ports of historic greater Boston. Home to some of the oldest public spaces in the country, Boston offers participants the opportunity to explore urban and coastal sites that have been re‐purposed for contemporary use. Questions to be considered include: What exists of the original space? How has the space been reconfigured? How do people interact in the current site? What commerce, if any, is connected to the place? How does the space work, or not work, to bring people together? Are there competing interests at play in the space? What is the relationship between past and present? Through readings, discussions, and observations, participants will explore how Boston’s public spaces work to shape the city and its surroundings.


Memory and Monuments: Ground Zero and Lower Manhattan
June 2012

This Faculty Institute will consider the interlocking concepts of memory, change, and time through exploration of the monuments and memorials of lower Manhattan. Home to a wide range of memorial sites—including the NaƟonal September 11 Memorial & Museum, Trinity Church/St. Paul’s Chapel, New York City Fire Museum, African Burial Ground National Monument, and the Hamilton Grange National Memorial—lower Manhattan offers participants the opportunity to consider important questions: What or who determines whether something is a memorial? What motivates people to create different kinds of memorials? What categories of memorials exist and how do we evaluate them? Do material memorials like statues and museums work differently than living memorials like trees and gardens? From small objects to vast complexes, memorials serve different purposes--to both the people who interact with them and the places where they are located.


Arts, Musics, Literatures: Cultures and Identity in Albuquerque and Santa Fe
July 2011

New Mexico is an unusually beautiful, complex, and unique space. Home to a variety of cultures and peoples, the state reflects myriad identities and qualities that have resulted from centuries of its people resisting, clashing, blending and negotiating. The area in and around Albuquerque and Santa Fe exemplifies some of the characteristics that distinguish this large geographical region. From July 20-24, 2011, 21 NCHC Faculty Institute participants explored Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and the Acoma Pueblo, investigating neighborhoods, markets, parks, plazas, cultural centers and historic sites as a way to consider the histories, economics, languages, and artistic expressions that help to define the uniqueness of place. With a home base at the historic Hotel Andaluz, built by New Mexico native Conrad Hilton in 1939, participants had easy access to Albuquerque and its environs, including public transportation and the train to Santa Fe.

Seeing Beneath the Surface: Kentucky Cave Country
June 2011

From June 7th through 12th the NCHC's Semester's Committee and the Honors College at WKU sponsored Seeing Beneath the Surface: Kentucky Cave Country, a Faculty Institute held at Mammoth Cave National Park. The Institute was designed for honors faculty and administrators who wish to experience first hand City as Text pedagogy and learn how to incorporate interdisciplinary and field-based elements into their courses and programs.


Las Vegas/Death Valley: Death and Desire in the American West
March 2010

Participants in the Las Vegas/Death Valley: Death and Desire in the American West Institute explored the built and natural environments of Las Vegas and Death Valley, contrasting the image and reality of these visually rich yet seemingly empty locations. In these superb venues for social, cultural, and natural exploration, participants experienced on-site exploration, readings of natural history, and analyses of literature and film. These experiences, combined with reflective and analytical writings and discussions, provided a sense of the ecological and social conflicts characteristic of extreme landscapes.

Neighborhoods, Niches and Community Needs
July-August 2010

The “Bean,” the “Eye,” the neighborhoods. So much to do, so little time. At the NCHC Honors Semesters Faculty Institute “Chicago: Community (Re)Organizing,” twenty-eight participants convened for a dynamic workshop complete with field explorations, written reflections and thought-provoking seminars. The institute, co-sponsored by Roosevelt University and facilitated by Bernice Braid (Long Island University), William Daniel (Winthrop University), Kathy Lyon (Winthrop University) and Robert Strikwerda (St. Louis University), was held July 28 – August 1. Colleagues from eighteen institutions from thirteen states attended, with thirteen of those schools sending representatives for the first time to an Honors Semesters Institute. The geographic spread of the attendees ranged from California to New Hampshire, Texas to Illinois. Everyone enjoyed the experiences using City as Text™ experiential learning pedagogy, mapping the exciting city of Chicago on foot, bus, subway and “L.” During the daily afternoon seminar discussions enthusiastic conversations abounded about the participants’ walkabouts and explorations throughout the city, looking below the surface life of Chicago. Their written essays catalogued their journeys through public spaces, and many reported awareness during these assignments that reflected seeing a new, or in some instances old, place through a different lens. In the participants’ turning point essays, many reported insights where a specific scene, moment or discussion changed their perceptions on how they view their worlds often citing “I learned something about myself,” or “. . . this allowed me to move beyond my comfort zone.” These comments truly reflect the value of experiential pedagogy the participants plan to pass on to their students. It is noteworthy to report the attendants’ anecdotal accounts of the camaraderie, friendship and collegiality they experienced during the 3-1/2 day institute that culminated in a delicious final banquet at a popular local Asian restaurant.